Building a website with
current information about your business is one of the
most important things you can do in establishing your
company's credibility with the media. More than ever,
the company website has become the first place reporters
turn for basic information about businesses. Having key
facts about your company readily available at their fingertips
becomes an important investment. This is not only true
for large corporations but for small companies as well.
In fact Vocus
Inc., the leading supplier of automated tools for
PR professionals, recently completed an interesting survey
on this subject. When interviewing 1,000 journalists,
86 percent of them revealed that a company's website is
the first place they look in order to find information
on a company. Three out of five reporters said that they
will look at a website first in order to decide whether
or not to make contact. Additionally, 90 percent of the
journalists also said that they wasted valuable time combing
through websites in search of information.
Those are important statistic because having an easily
accessible online newsroom is not very hard to achieve
and doesn't have to cost thousands of dollars to implement.
The advantages to building an online newsroom that contains
pertinent company information are clear: You not only
help to make a journalist's job much easier, but in doing
so, you may also significantly increase the chances of
having your company included in that journalist's story.
If you need help developing your online newsroom, start
by following some of these suggestions:
Design your online newsroom with the local as well
as international press in mind: We live in a global
business community so even the smallest company's website
can play a major role in International PR. Your company
may be located in the United States, but reporters from
around the world may have an interest in your business.
One of the simplest things you can do to give your site
more impact is to spell out the dates in your releases
(i.e., January 10, 2004 instead of 01-10-2004) so that
they adhere to international global date formats. For
many reporters around the world, the latter example above
would be interpreted as October 1, 2004. Doing this could
mean the difference between your website's content being
seen as current or stale.
Properly label your news area: Give your news
area a name easily recognizable to journalists. Examples
of this could be "Newsroom" or "Press Center." Journalists
tend to associate the term "Media Kit" with sales information
and advertising rates, and therefore may choose not click
on the link.
Make your online newsroom easily accessible: Your
online newsroom should be no more than one click away
from the homepage. Provide quick press contact information:
Not only list the name of your press person, but also
make all means of contact (office phone, cell phone, and
pager numbers) within a 24-hour day available to them.
Also provide a personal e-mail address (i.e., email@example.com)
rather than a generic one (i.e, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Journalists on deadline will not take a chance on sending
a message to a generic e-mail address because they figure
they will not receive a timely response.
Include links to all relevant company information:
Journalists should be able to access your company fact
sheet, mission statement, statistics, background materials
and executive bios. Making this information available
on your site helps the reporter in building the foundation
for his story.
List all company press releases in descending order:
Give your visitors your freshest information first. In
addition, when distributing your press release via wire
services, be sure to upload a copy to your website immediately
as well. Also, keep in mind that reporters may be accessing
information from a variety of locations (home, office,
remote locations) so make sure that the release is available
in multiple formats (html and .pdf) for quick and easy
downloading. If your company has distributed more than
ten releases, then make sure that the releases are searchable
by headline, type, date and year.
Present your company's news coverage and make it searchable:
Let the reporters see what other media outlets have said
about your company -- even if some of the stories are
not friendly to your company. It shows that your company
has third-party endorsements, lends credibility, and will
help in developing more interest in your story.
Make multimedia files available and downloadable:
These resources would include digital images (i.e., logos,
corporate and product photos), as well as short audio
and video clips. Make sure that digital images are available
in multiple formats (JPEG, GIF, TIFF, and EPS). TIF and
EPS are listed because print journalists will need the
images delivered to them at a much higher resolution (at
least 300 dpi) than the standard resolution found on the
web (72 dpi). List the size of the multimedia files so
that the reporter can gauge how long it will take to download.
It's also a great idea to make audio and video clips available
for use on a variety of different players (i.e., Real
Audio or Windows Media Player), or at least indicate which
player should be used.
Optimize your online newsroom for search engines:
Journalists spend a great deal of time using the Internet
to find or research stories. Optimize the keywords associated
with your company and the industry in which it belongs
so that journalists will be able to find your company
during their search on Google.
If your company doesn't already have an online newsroom
yet, then now is a great time to start developing one.
In doing so you would be creating a one-stop shop for
news releases, photos, and any other content deemed important
by reporters to do his or her job more efficiently. You'd
be ahead of the game, too, because if you ask most journalists
what they think about most online newsrooms, they will
tell you that most of them are horrible. Use this opportunity
to build something that reporters will find useful and
feel comfortable visiting again and again for solid information.
As small-business owners, here is your chance to level
the media playing field, and get the coverage that your
company deserves. Having a great online newsroom can carry
you along ways toward achieving your goals.
you have a media relations question? Ask
Carolyn! Your questions could be featured in an up-coming
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